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Indefinite Detention of Guantanamo Detainees to Become a Long-Term U.S. Policy

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Street art of a hooded detainee at Guantanamo Bay
(Image by The 2 Tone Man)
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br />Street art of a hooded detainee at Guantanamo Bay by The 2 Tone Man

Street art of a hooded detainee at Guantanamo Bay by The 2 Tone Man

The Obama Administration will be making indefinite detention a more institutionalized part of U.S. policy in the so-called war on terrorism. An executive order to set up a "parole board" to periodically "review evidence" against "prisoners" being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba is being discussed and is expected to be signed by Obama next year.

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ProPublica and the Washington Post were the first to report on the executive order. ProPublica suggests "the White House alone" would "manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial." The order, "being drafted jointly by White House staff in the National Security council and the White House counsel, will offer detainees in this category a minimal review every six months and then a more lengthy annual review. Detainees will have access to an attorney, to some evidence against them and the ability to challenge their continued detention."

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The New York Times notes, "The proposal would replace the 'annual review boards' that the Bush administration had used to revisit its decision to hold each prisoner. Under that system, which the Obama administration shut down, a panel of military officers periodically reviewed the accusations against and talked to each prisoner who wanted to participate. The prisoners were not represented by lawyers. Officers then decided whether a prisoner was still a threat or should be released."

In contrast, the new system would supposedly afford detainees more opportunities to challenge their detention.

The move toward a system of indefinite detention is undoubtedly a response to the Obama Administration's failure to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, as Obama committed his Administration to doing when he signed an executive order during his first days as president. But, that isn't the only reason for this move. ProPublica claims, the drafting of this order also "stems from the president's embrace of indefinite detention and his assertion that the congressional authorization for military force, passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks, allows for such detention."

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported on Obama's disappointing approval of indefinite detention in a report it released this year titled, "Establishing the New Normal." From the report, which detailed the Administration's efforts and struggle to close Guantanamo, it noted:

"Of far greater significance than the administration's failure to meet its own one-year deadline is its embrace of the theory underlying the Guantanamo detention regime: that the Executive Branch can detain militarily--without charge or trial--terrorism suspects captured far from a conventional battlefield. President Obama first expressly endorsed this claim of authority in May of 2009, in a major speech at the National Archives. The President stated that the Guantanamo detainees whome the administration deemed dangerous, but who "could not be prosecuted" because of a lack of reliable evidence, would be held indefinitely without trial, and he proposed that Congress provide legislative authority for a new detention regime. Although, to its credit the administration has now publicly stated that it will not support any new legislation expanding detention authority, it has continued to assert, in habeas corpus proceeding involving Guantanamo and Bagram detainees, a dangerously overbroad authority to detain civilian terrorism suspects militarily. And its task force has identified 48 Guantanamo detainees who will be held indefinitely without charge or trial..."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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